Career development opportunities and support in a corporate practice

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Career development opportunities and support in a corporate practice

Dr Sarah Weston, UK

Dr Sarah Weston, UK

Thu. 18 August 2016


Having worked for most of my career in the independent sector, I was aware of the negative press surrounding corporate dentistry before I joined the mydentist group, but I have to say that those rumours were all unfounded. In fact, I feel quite passionately that new graduates are still being given that negative message. As a company we should try to give the next generation the facts and engage them directly.

It has been 20 years since I qualified from Guy’s Hospital. Since then, I have worked in Australia, New Zealand and the UK and across most areas of the profession, be it as a house officer in New Zealand, in NHS and private practices, or as a partner and an associate. At my current practice in the small market town of Woodbridge in Suffolk, we predominately perform NHS dentistry, but do offer a range of private services.

With an interesting demographic of patients, we have the opportunity to utilise all our skills. We routinely see 25–30 patients a day and I am lucky that I work with a really great team and most of us have worked together for a while now. It is good to be with other people who understand the stress and strains of the job and can have a good laugh together at times.

I work full time, so my days tend to be fairly similar. I start with a coffee then move on to checking day lists, patient records and laboratory work, etc. I hate surprises so I like to know what the day will hold.

Most of my days are spent performing a mix of examinations and treatments, with the odd interesting case thrown in. I also offer facial aesthetic procedures and have recently been on the Denture Excellence course. It is great to be able to offer such a wide choice of treatment options to patients and the denture excellence has really taken off. It is an area I really enjoy, as a good denture can make so much difference to someone’s quality of life. I am hoping to undertake an implant restoration course soon as well, so I will be able to restore the implants placed by colleagues at local practices in the group.

Since working for the company, I have become a mentor too, which has definitely been a highlight for me. It is a role I really enjoy, as after 20 years in the job, it is satisfying to pass on some of my experience to the younger generation. I had a great vocational training instructor when I started and I hope I can be as good to new associates as he was to me. It is a job that is mutually beneficial: it is extremely rewarding to see a mentee improve and gain in confidence and it does the same for the mentor.

Within the company, we are fortunate to have a high level of support from practice and area managers through to clinical support managers and clinical directors. They are there to help prevent small problems from becoming larger ones. It is true that the red flags and key performance indicators can feel intrusive at times, but I do feel they are there to help clinicians above everything else. A visit from the clinical support manager should be seen as a positive thing and I am fortunate to have a great manager in my area. One thing I have learnt is that it can be lonely in the independent sector and there is no one looking out for you in the same way. I think the support network available is the real strength of corporate dentistry.

Furthermore, we are incredibly fortunate to have the online academy and the reminder to complete CPD when it is required. This can be a burden for dentists and if there is any way to make it easier then we should be grateful. My practice manager keeps us up to date on when our CPD is due and the opportunity to complete it online is a great help, especially when I am busy in the practice five days a week. Overall, I feel that my move to mydentist was the best thing I could have done for my career. The opportunities are there to further my career in ways that I did not feel existed in the independent sector.

While I enjoy my job enormously, I would relish the opportunity to move out of the surgery environment a little in the coming years and expand on my mentoring role and continue with more training and support of new dentists. I hope I can achieve this within the company.

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